Thursday, September 23, 2010

DVD Review: Eden Log (2007)

EDEN LOG (2007)

"Escape from Darkness."

Magnolia Home Entertainment

RUN TIME: 98 Min.
DIRECTOR: Franck Vestiel

CAST: Clovis, Cornillac (Tolbiac), Vimala Pons

SUMMARY: A man wakes up deep in a cave. Suffering amnesia he has no recollection of how he came to be there, or of what happened to the man whose body he finds beside him. Tailed by a mysterious creature, this forgotten man embarks upon a journey through this strange and fantastic world, struggling to find his way to the surface.

THE FILM: From French filmmaker Franck Vestiel comes EDEN LOG, a sci-fi mystery adventure. The premise?  Stop me if you've heard this one before.... a man wakes in unfamiliar surrounding with no idea how he got there or who he is... definitely a post CUBE (1997). A man awakens in a darkened cave, he's covered in mud and laying naked in a pool of dirty water, a dead body lies next to him. He doesn't know who he is and neither do we, which is the initial intrigue of the film. Who's this guy, where is he, who's body is that, why's he naked? The answers are revealed to both character and viewer simultaneously, albeit at a slothenly pace. Be forewarned, you have to pay attention to this film, this is not a casual watch. So, put on your thinking cap and sharpen your sense of observation cause you're gonna need 'em. It is revealed through various discoveries that the cave is actually a facility called Eden Log that harnesses the power of an enormous tree whose roots are prevalent throughout the film, they infiltrate all areas of the facility. The sap of the tree produces an energy source for a nearby city center. How? I have no idea. The facility is in shambles, something catastrophic has happened here, there are bodies everywhere. The man strips a few corpses and clothes himself, he also obtains a flashlight to illuminate the cluttered labyrinth of tunnels and rooms. Setting out to find answers within the subterranean facility he encounters small squads of armed men roaming the facility in bio-suits killing anything that moves. The more I watched the film the more I felt it played out like a BIO SHOCK-esque video game, moving from level to level, progress hindered by mutated C.H.U.D. like creatures and armed opponents, meeting a lab technician along the way, picking up snippets of information and slowly piecing together the bigger picture. I was with it for about half the film, then I found myself tuning out. The intrigue of his identity and what happened in the Eden Log facility only held my attention for so long, and the pace at which details are revealed was too slow for my tastes.
This is a  film of limited means budgetarily, and the director made keen choices visually to mask any shortcomings, as the film looks great. It's monochromatic color scheme is very limited, almost black and white with a moss colored patina, deep shadow and harsh light are used to great effect. An eerie and haunting filmscore goes a longways towards complimenting the claustrohpobic atmosphere. The sets are extremely dark, saturated in inky black shadows, dank and wet, proliferated with the roots of the massive tree. Visually, an exciting and attractive film, I was reminded of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's DELICATESSEN and Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL or 12 MONKEYS with the low-tech futuristic designs. I could imagine what the director would be capable of with a larger budget, and a better script. I won't spoil the films ending and revelations and I'm not sure I could as the storyline was a bit hard to follow honestly.

DVD: The DVD comes by way of Magnolia Home Entertainment and Eden Log is presented in the original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio with a very good English and French language 5.1 surround sound design. The surround speakers are utilized well creating a claustrophobic and immersive viewing experience, the film score is effectively eerie and haunting. Sadly, the only special feature is the ability to view the original French language version of the film which really isn't a special feature now, is it? Great image and sound presentation, no extras - kinda lame.

 VERDICT:  Eden Log is not a horror film, as it's not frightening in the least. It's not truly a sci-fi film either as the science is never explained, its pretty low-tech in fact. And it's far too slow paced to be considered a thriller. While it's intriguing it's not very entertaining and a bit confusing. The film looks great, the acting is decent, nothing outstanding.  A great technical film, but a bit hollow in the story department. That said, Eden Log is decent calling card from a talented new director, I'll be interested to see what's next for him.
** (2 out of 5 stars)